Updated: October 26, 2017 7:36:17 am
WHILE THE BJP has opposed the state government’s plan to celebrate Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary, President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday hailed the 18th century ruler of Mysore as a “formidable soldier’’ from Karnataka who “died a heroic death”. Addressing a joint session of the Karnataka legislature to mark the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Vidhana Soudha — the state legislature building — the President said: “Tipu Sultan died a heroic death fighting the British. He was also a pioneer in the development and use of Mysore rockets in warfare. This technology was later adopted by the Europeans.”
The President’s reference to Tipu Sultan came after he noted the contributions of “formidable soldiers” from Karnataka. “Karnataka is a land of formidable soldiers. Krishnadevaraya was the greatest ruler of the Vijayanagara empire and remains an inspiration for all Indians. Kempe Gowda was the founder of Bengaluru. Rani Chennamma of Kittur and Rani Abbakka led among the earliest battles against colonial powers,’’ he said. “More recently, two of our finest army chiefs, Field Marshal K M Cariappa and General K S Thimayya were sons of Karnataka,’’ said the President.
His remarks came amid a raging debate between the Congress government in the state and the opposition BJP over the former Mysore ruler. The BJP has threatened major protests if the state government goes ahead with its plans to celebrate Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary on November 10. Recently, Anantkumar Hegde, Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, asked the state government not to include his name in the programme invitations for Tipu Jayanti celebrations.
“Tipu was anti-Kannada and anti-Hindu, and history says this. The celebration of Tipu Jayanti last year resulted in law and order problems in the state. The decision of the government to celebrate the birth anniversary of a divisive leader is condemned by the minister,’’ said the letter sent by his office to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, . “(I have) conveyed (to) Karnataka government not to invite me to shameful event of glorifying a person known as brutal killer, wretched fanatic and mass rapist,” Hegde had tweeted.
Siddaramaiah has labelled the BJP’s opposition as “doublespeak’’, pointing out that many BJP leaders like state president B S Yeddyurappa, former chief minister Jagadish Shettar and former deputy chief minister R Ashok have participated in Tipu Jayanti events in the past. “It is the decision of the Karnataka government to celebrate the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan. Those who oppose it do not know the Constitution. The BJP is trying to politicise the issue ahead of elections. Is Tipu Sultan not a Kannadiga? Did he not fight four battles against the British? He sacrificed his children in the battles because he refused to surrender. Tipu was a Muslim alright, but he fought against the British and died a martyr’s death. Is this not true,’’ Siddaramaiah said earlier this week.
“BJP leaders like Yeddyurappa, Jagadish Shettar and R Ashok, who are now opposing the celebration, were among those who willing accepted Tipu hats during Tipu Jayanti celebrations in the past. Why did they do it,’’ he said. “They are opposing Tipu Jayanti for political reasons. Their intention is to indulge in divisive politics and to create differences between Hindus and Muslim,’’ he said.
Last year, the Tipu Jayanti celebrations in Karnataka were marred by clashes between Muslims from outfits like the Popular Front of India and activists of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Kodagu region. A 67-year-old VHP activist, D S Kutappa, was killed after he fell while trying to flee from pro-Tipu Sultan campaigners who were throwing stones during the clashes, while a PFI worker was shot dead.
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